A brilliant smile radiates health and happiness
Dentistry is no longer just a case of filling and extracting teeth, as it was for many years. Nowadays, many people turn to dentistry as a way of improving their appearance, much as they would use cosmetic surgery or even a new hairstyle.
What makes one smile more attractive than another?
When analyzing one’s smile there are a number of considerations to take into account.
Your dentist will look at:
– Colour, alignment, shape and size of the teeth
– Amount and line of gums showing
– Symmetry between the left and right
– Facial features
– Age of the patient
– Existing fillings showing
– Function of the teeth / how they fit together
Cosmetic treatments include veneers, crowns, bridges, tooth-coloured fillings and bleaching. Treatment can be from as little as a small filling to an extensive smile make-over, where all of the teeth are being treated.
For over 150 years standard fillings have been made out of a silver-grey material called amalgam. Many people find these fillings unattractive and some are concerned about possible health risks. There are many options available when choosing a material to replace silver fillings.
The new dental materials mean it is much easier to find a perfect match for the shade of a particular tooth. In most cases, it is quite impossible to see that the tooth has ever had a filling.
Modern techniques now involve bondingfillings to teeth using special dental adhesives. This technique is called adhesive dentistry. The area on the tooth is treated with a solution, which roughens the surface. The adhesive is then applied and the filling is bonded to the tooth.
The advantages of this method are that the cavity needs less preparation and in some cases, it may not be necessary to numb the tooth.
Materials that are commonly used are, composite and porcelain.
These fillings are resin based and are applied as a putty-like material. This can be moulded to the exact shape of the tooth and are then set using a visible blue light. It can be matched exactly to the shade of your tooth. It is normally cheaper than porcelain because it can be completed in the chair in one visit, with no need for a dental technician.
However it is only ideal for use in small to medium size cavities. Advantages are cost and treatment time. Disadvantages are that they are more prone to staining and have a shorter life.
Where the tooth is in need for a larger restoration or filling, your dentist will then offer you the use of porcelain instead.
This procedure normally takes longer to do, as it requires the expertise and craftsmanship of a dental technician.
There are many different types of porcelain available. Your dentist will discuss the type that is best suitable for you.
These are thin slices of porcelain, which are precisely made to fit over the visible surface of mainly front teeth, very much like a false fingernail. They are commonly used to close gaps between front teeth, to “straighten” teeth, repairing chips and cracks and to mask stained or discoloured teeth.
Orthodontics / Braces
In most cases, the ideal way to straighten teeth is by means of braces. Nowadays there are cosmetic braces available, from tooth coloured to transparent braces, and contrary to popular believe, braces are not just for children.
Famous movie stars like Tom Cruise have had cosmetic braces fitted to straighten their teeth. Depending on the severity of each case, treatment can vary from a few months, up to a couple of years.
The latest in cosmetic orthodontic treatment is the revolutionary Invisalign, where the teeth are straightened by wearing a gum guard like appliance, similar to a sports guard, without the need for conventional braces.
Where the tooth requires a larger filling, for example due to a fracture or decay, your dentist will recommend a crown rather than yet another bigger filling. This crown can cover part of, or the whole of the tooth, depending on the damage, and it can be made of full metal, combination of metal and porcelain or just porcelain.
A lost or missing tooth can be replaced by an artificial titanium root that is surgically placed into the jawbone. A crown will then be attached to the implant post to replace the missing tooth. This procedure can also be used where multiple teeth are being lost, or to act as anchors for fastening dentures.
Please refer to our Implant leaflet for more information.
By applying a gel to ones teeth, discolorations can be bleached to brighten up your smile without the need to drill healthy tooth structure away.
What is the first step to your new smile?
– Detailed examination, including a medical questionnaire, and x-rays
– Digital colour photographs of the face and teeth
– Impressions of the teeth to make a cast of your teeth
– Possible wax ups of the casts to determent/plan your “new” smile
– Treatment plan discussions
There is nothing simple about redesigning one’s smile. As with all other dental procedures, careful planning and detailed discussions are essential to have a predictable outcome in creating that wonderful smile.
You are welcome to contact us for more information on how we can help to change your smile.
Written By Dr. Walter Reynecke (B.Sc, B.Ch.D)
The Dental Spa, Moreleta Park, Pretoria